Wondering how to wake up early this winter when you’d rather just sleep until summer? Waking up early in the winter certainly comes with its challenges. Winter mornings tend to be dark, cold and can be altogether unmotivating.
If you’re not typically a morning person, waking up early in the winter can feel even more daunting. Even those early birds who are typically up catching worms can feel the impacts of winter. Depending on where you live, the darkest days of winter might not see the sun rise until well past the time you’re used to getting out of bed.
Once daylight savings time hits, trying to wake up early can seem like even more of a struggle. If you live somewhere where the clocks “fall back” in early November, you’re losing an hour of daylight on days that are already getting shorter.
If you’re wondering how to wake up early this winter when all you want to do is stay cozy in bed, the following tips will have you up and at ‘em before the rising sun.
6 Tips to Help You Wake Up Early This Winter
There are several studies that show waking up early is synonymous with success. People who wake up early are shown to be more productive, earn better grades, be more organized, get better sleep, be more optimistic and more. Want to wake up earlier and harness some of these benefits for yourself? Check out the following tips to help you wake up early all winter long.
1. Set an Alarm … And Don’t Hit Snooze
The very first step to help you wake up early during the darkest time of the year is to set an alarm. If you need to be up at 5 a.m., set your alarm for 5 a.m. and don’t think twice about it, despite how dark and cold it might be outside.
When your alarm goes off in the morning, don’t hit snooze. Sound impossible? It’s not. Yes, it can be incredibly tempting to close your eyes for a few more minutes, but doing so can make you feel even more foggy throughout your morning. When you hit snooze, you actually disrupt the body’s natural process of waking up.
Rafael Pelayo, MD, a sleep specialist at Stanford University, recommends you set your alarm for the exact time you need to wake up and get up when it goes off. Getting up consistently at the same time each day without hitting snooze will help you maintain a natural sleep/wake cycle and allow your brain to become more fully alert without feeling foggy.
2. Turn On the Lights
If you have trouble waking up in the winter when it’s still dark out, don’t feel bad about your struggle. It’s real. The lack of natural light puts a strain on your circadian rhythm. This is your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle, which is regulated by the rise and fall of the sun.
If you have to wake up early in the winter while it’s still dark out, it’s natural to want to go back to sleep. You can combat this urge by quickly turning on your bedroom lights when your alarm goes off. Doing so can help simulate outdoor light, even if there are still hours before sunrise.
Consider light sources that mimic natural light, as it will be less of a shock to the senses first thing. Lightbulbs that are similar to natural light can also help stimulate chemicals in the brain that can improve your mood. You might also consider a sunrise alarm clock that gradually lights up the room to imitate the rising sun, gently and naturally easing you out of sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, exposure to light in the morning sends signals to the brain to raise body temperature and produce hormones like cortisol. Yes, increased cortisol levels are associated with higher levels of stress, but higher cortisol levels in the morning are normal and help us to wake up. Light exposure in the morning also delays the release of melatonin, which is associated with the onset of sleep and is produced in the brain when it’s dark.
3. Make Your Bed Immediately
One of the best rituals you can do to help stay out of bed once you wake up is to immediately make your bed. According to a recent article by MSN, people who make their beds in the morning are basically better at everything. Does this include helping you wake up early? It just might.
Research shows that people who climb into a messy bed at night report lower quality of sleep and hit the snooze button regularly.
Making your bed in the morning can also give you an instant feeling of accomplishment when starting your day, helping you feel more on top of things and better organized.
4. Take a Shower
If you really want to wake up early, do yourself a favor and jump in the shower. While getting out of your warm bed and standing under a stream of running water might not sound like the best idea on a cold, dark morning, it can do wonders to help you wake up.
Robert Glatter, MD told Elite Daily: “A morning shower can help to relax you, but also provides motivation to kickstart your day … A soothing shower, followed by a brief cold shower at the end can provide the perfect way to start your day.”
Why the cold water? You might be wondering if there could be anything worse on a cold winter morning. A quick blast of cold water at the end of a warm shower helps to stimulate your circulation.
Experts recommend switching to cold water for 30 seconds at the end of your shower, then switching back to hot water for 30 seconds, then returning to cold water for another 30 seconds. However you want to try it, that blast of cold water in the morning can help you wake up and start your day feeling energized and fresh.
5. Create a Morning Routine and Plan Ahead
Want to wake up early and feel like you’ve gotten up on the right side of the bed? Consider creating a morning routine that allows you to execute the beginning of your day with ease.
The more you plan ahead, the easier your morning will be. The way we start our morning has everything to do with how the rest of our day goes. When waking up early in the winter, this is especially important.
Staying true to the tips on this list, you might want to start your morning routine by making your bed and taking a quick shower. Consider picking out your clothes the night before so you don’t waste time figuring out what to wear. One of the best things you can do to make it easier to wake up early is plan ahead.
The last thing you want to do when trying to wake up early in the winter is rush around while you’re trying to get ready to go. Waking up early during the darkest months of the year is already difficult enough.
Click here for tips on creating a mindful morning routine that can help have a profound effect on how the rest of your day unfolds.
6. Use Caffeine to Your Advantage
One of the best parts of waking up early? Coffee. If you want to know how to wake up early, you should consider using caffeine to your advantage.
If it’s hard for you to wake up without coffee first thing every morning, consider programming the coffee maker to go off in the morning so it’s ready for you when you wake up. If you’re the pour-over or French press type, set everything out the night before so it’s ready for you when you first wake up. You might consider a bulletproof coffee recipe in the morning to help boost brain function and increase concentration.
If you don’t do coffee, try green tea. Not only does it contain less caffeine than coffee, but it offers some serious health benefits and could help improve mental clarity and cognitive function.
If you don’t do caffeine at all, consider starting your day with a protein drink, superfood smoothie or green juice that will offer your body the energy-boosting benefits it needs to wake up early and seize the day.
Don’t be left in the dark this winter when trying to wake up early. By following these simple tips, you’ll find that waking up early in the winter doesn’t have to be such a drag.
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Todd Smith is Joy Organics Chief Partnerships Officer and Co-founder. Before Joy Organics, he worked in the wellness and nutritional industry for over three decades and helped generate over 1 billion dollars in supplement sales. He has applied that knowledge and experience to empower over 1000 businesses through Joy Organics’ partnership programs. Todd is also the author of a book, podcast, and blog titled Little Things Matter.